'Let's be a light of hope'—Eagle River man lights up his home with Christmas lights for hope amid coronavirus fears

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EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (KTUU) — An Eagle River Christmas enthusiast is lighting up his home with Christmas lights, and wants Alaskans to join him, to show solidarity and community in a time of isolation and uncertainty.

Eagle River resident Michael Childers lights up his Eagle River home with Christmas lights amid coronavirus pandemic. March 21, 2020 (KTUU)

"I am the Christmas fan," says Air Force Veteran and long-time Alaskan Michael Childers. With a long white beard, Childers even bears enough of a resemblance to Santa Claus that he's been playing the part of Santa for 12 years on the Alaska Railroad Holiday Train.

"It's a time of giving, a time of caring, and a time of loving," Childers said about his love for the holiday.

As much as he loves Christmas, Childers says he and his family normally takes down their Christmas lights like clockwork after the new year begins.

But ever since coronavirus began forcing many Alaskans into physical isolation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Childers decided it was time to dig out the Christmas lights.

"That spirit can keep going on. It doesn't have to be just Christmas time. This time that we're going through right now, it's a hard difficult time," Childers said. "The future is uncertain right now. We don't know where this is going to go. We don't know if there's going to be a cure for it, we don't know how long it's going to last."

He says that uncertainty is why Alaskans should join together to help each other in a time of need.

"People just need to reach out — not necessarily physically — but reach out and, get to know your neighbor. If you're going to the store and your neighbor needs something, give them a call and ask if there's anything you can pick up for them," Childers said. "It might be the little old lady down the street, it might be the gentleman that's walking his dog every morning that's got his cane."

Childers, who flew on C130 cargo crews doing humanitarian missions in North Africa and the Philippines, says it's not the first time he's seen what can happen when societies fall into an 'every man for themselves' mentality.

"We are Americans and if we can control ourselves, that won't happen," Childers said. "What I really want the people of Alaska to know is that we are in a great nation, and we will get through this."

He's calling for Alaskans to join him lighting up their homes to show that Alaskans stand together in times of darkness.

"We want everybody to light their house up and let their lights be up," Childers said, "We are in a great state, and rather than looking for a light of hope, let's be a light of hope and let our Christmas lights shine, and we'll get through this if we help each other out. Things can only get better."

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